Why I Chose to Become Certified as a Birth Boot Camp Doula

Image taken by the author at a recent birth.

Image taken by the author at a recent birth.

I always knew I would be an artist.  Photography was a hobby until art school when I chose it as a major.  I have documented everything in my adult life with a camera. Photographs of family members, some long gone, are my most prized possessions.

When I finally became pregnant with my first child in 2010, I knew what kind of birth I wanted to have and set about preparing.  The biggest surprise for me was the reaction of family and friends. Every birth story was negative. All of my goals were silly and perhaps even frivolous.  I took a birth class and hired a doula, effectively surrounding myself with positive energy to block out the negative static.

I had my birth and it was perfectly imperfect, as birth generally seems to be.  Even in the postpartum period, I felt the negativity creep in. My first year as a mother was the hardest of my life.  I survived but was changed.

It became apparent that I would like to continue being a part of the birth world.  Combining documentary photography and birth was a natural progression to my art and my life.  I found myself having long conversations with birth and newborn photography clients about motherhood.  It felt as though I could be the non-judgemental support I had so desperately needed in the early days of my motherhood.

A doula is more than a job title, it is a calling and a passion.  After attending births as a photographer for years, I realized I was also a doula.  I decided to get certified as a Birth Boot Camp doula because of the emphasis on integrity, professionalism, and continuing education.  

Becoming a certified doula has not only expanded my knowledge of birth immensely, it has made me a better birth photographer.  With the growing popularity of this subset of photography, I wish every new birth photographer would start with extensive education on the physiological process of childbirth and most importantly, how to appropriately act in a birth space.  I didn’t become a photographer without years of college education so why would I attend births without the same!

I attend births as a birth photographer or a doula and I enjoy each role for different reasons.  First and foremost, the connections I make with my clients is why I deprive myself of sleep and obsessively check my phone at night.  May we all be seen, heard, and supported.

Christina Hodgen, BBCD

Image taken by Alexa Gumm of the author in the doula role.

Image taken by Alexa Gumm of the author in the doula role.

Christina Hodgen